Giving Tuesday square


If you haven’t heard, #GivingTuesday is a big deal.

Let’s review the holidays toward the end of November:

  • Thanksgiving in the US (on a Thursday)
  • Black Friday (when people go crazy with retail shopping)
  • Cyber Monday (the biggest online shopping day of the year)
  • #GivingTuesday (designed to encourage giving)

#GivingTuesday is quickly becoming a big day for fundraising. People make donations online to their favorite charity or find another way to support their favorite cause, like volunteering or hosting a supply drive.

This video created by the folks at will help you understand what #GivingTuesday is all about.
Here are a couple of interesting facts about #GivingTuesday:

  • In 2013, over $10,000,000 was given to charity. That’s a lot of money in one day and it’s bound to be way more this year.
  • 60% of people giving online are new donors. This is HUGE! This means that most people who make a donation on that day are new to the nonprofit they’re supporting. That means #GivingTuesday can be a great source of new donors for you.
  • Nonprofits that participate in #GivingTuesday did twice as well in 2013 as those that did not. Seems like the groups that are on the ball and being very successful are participating in #GivingTuesday.
  • In 2013, the average #GivingTuesday gift size was $142. That means that people who give are giving big.

 Are You Ready to Rock #GivingTuesday
This year, #GivingTuesday is December 2. If you already have a plan for #GivingTuesday, great. If not, you STILL have time to spread the word that your nonprofit is a great cause for people to support.

Here are my recommendations for your #GivingTuesday promotion:

  1. Choose your message. What will your #Giving Tuesday message be? “Support us” won’t cut it. “Help us change more lives this holiday season” is better. Something very compelling that’s specific to your mission is best.
  2. Plan the promotion. Email your supporters and let them know about #GivingTuesday ahead of time. Create a great graphic and post it on Facebook. Graphics are WAY more sharable than straight text. Also post it on your website and any other social media you use. You can get the #GivingTuesday logo at
  3. Encourage your volunteers, staff, and Board to share the graphic. The more people who are sharing the #GivingTuesday message, the better.
  4. Put together a press release for your local media. Let them know you’re participating and what #GivingTuesday is. If they’re already planning a story, they may well include you in it.
  5. Be sure your “Donate Now” button works.  You don’t want to be caught with problems on your website! Make sure the site is ready for visitors, the donation button is easy to find, and that the auto-receipt that people receive is consistent with your nonprofit’s brand.
  6. Be ready to receive phone calls and emails. You may have people with questions about your organization, and you should be ready to answer them.
  7. Figure out how you’ll measure your success. How will you track the gifts that come in from #GivingTuesday? Is there a way you can post a specific link on your social media so that you can track the gifts that come in? If not, can you at least measure the gifts that arrive on Dec 2?


Links to #GivingTuesday resources

Ideas for ways to get others involved:

Customizable graphics for #GivingTuesday:

More resources and worksheets:

More videos:

I bet you’ve done it.

I sure have.

We bought right into the myth without even realizing what we were doing.

What myth? The Myth of Boards. It goes like this: “People who sit on nonprofit Boards know what to do and they should help with fundraising.”

Think about it: how many times have you been frustrated with your Board because they won’t do their job?  They won’t help with your events. They won’t introduce you to their friends. They don’t seem to want to make eye contact with you when you start talking about fundraising.

You know what I’m talking about. There’s a reason they’re behaving this way. Let me explain.

People who say “yes” to serving on your Board are good-hearted people, and they probably love your mission.  In fact, they probably said “yes” because they want to help and they want to make a difference.

Unfortunately, they don’t know squat about serving on a Board.

Without a solid understanding, they’ll gravitate to whatever looks familiar, easy, or fun.  That’s why some want to talk about the napkin color for the upcoming gala, and others want to micromanage.  They’re in their comfort zone and they’re not planning on coming out.

When you expect your Board to help with fundraising when they don’t understand how good fundraising works, it’s like chasing a unicorn. You’re never going to catch it because it doesn’t exist.

Want to help your Board become a group of fired-up Ambassadors for your cause, and WILLING to help raise money? It’s pretty simple really. Teach them.

There’s no Board police to show up and write your Board members a ticket for not doing their job. If you want your Board to be different, you need to take the initiative and do whatever you need to do to help them learn to do their job well.

 Expecting Your Board to Fundraise is like Chasing a UnicornLike I always say, a little education goes a long way.
Teach them about their roles and responsibilities.  Help them understand what a Board does and doesn’t do. Explain fundraising to them in some simple terms that they can grasp. Show them you’re there to support them to be successful.

I know you may be annoyed at the thought of training your Board, but what happens if you don’t?  You can keep doing what you’ve been doing, and you’ll get what you always got.  If you want something different, you must DO something different.

I’m convinced that if you want to help more people, you need to raise more money.  And to do that, you need your Board to help.

You CAN have a great Board – a Board that raises money, spreads your message, advocates your mission, supports your staff and is fully engaged and excited about their role with the nonprofit.

Want more help moving your Board in the right direction? Check out my new (and free!) video series called “Build Your Best Fundraising Board Ever!”

Unless you’ve been under a rock, you know that relationships with donors are the key to long-term fundraising success.But if you’re like many, you just aren’t sure how to build those all-important relationships. Maybe you don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re worried it’ll feel manipulative.

It’s not rocket science by any stretch. It’s about being considerate and polite. And it’s about building the relationship on purpose.

We’re all used to the way relationships naturally grow. Think about people you are close to. How did you meet? What did you do early in the relationship?

It seems to get weird when we’re doing it on purpose. But it doesn’t have to be.
Remember that you’re helping draw people closer to your nonprofit so they can be a bigger part of the work you’re doing to change lives. That’s all. As long as your intention is honorable, you have no reason to feel wonky about getting to know your donors.

The most successful nonprofits are the ones who have figured this out, and are working to engage their donors. I know you can do this, too.

Here are some of my best tips to build those critical donor relationships.

  • Focus on the right people.    Not everyone is your donor. Not everyone cares about your cause. If you try to build a relationship with someone who isn’t ideal, you’ll never see the results you really want. So spend time with people who are the best donors for your nonprofit and whose interests match your organization’s mission.
  • Don’t try to get married on the first date. Relationships take time to develop. People who come on too strong too early in the relationship are usually labeled “creepy.” Get to know your donor first before you ask her for a big commitment like giving you a chunk of money.
  • Build the Know, Like, and Trust factor. Help your donors and donor prospects get to know you and your nonprofit. Give them reasons to like you and what you’re doing. Share your dreams and vision, and why they matter. Then do everything you can to build trust, from giving and keeping your word, to showing you can manage money well. People give where they believe their money will be used wisely. No one gives to a cause they don’t like or trust.
    • Value the relationship over money. Don’t focus so much on the money that it becomes the driving force. People have built-in radar that goes on alert when someone isn’t genuinely interested in them. If you focus too much on the money, you’ll trigger that radar and then your chance at developing a lasting relationship is over. Think about it this way. If someone gives you a donation, you get money. This one time. If someone really cares about your nonprofit’s work and they want to partner with you, they’ll give again and again, and even put up with a fair amount of crap from you, because they care about the ultimate outcome of changing lives. From Lukewarm to Lightning Hot: Top Tips for Building Donor Relationships
  • Build relationships 1-to-many whenever you can.  It isn’t always feasible to get face-to-face with every donor. So it’s critical that you build relationships through your newsletter, social media, and anywhere else you can communicate in a mass way. However, you have to do it right. Make sure that whatever you share in those tools is relevant to the reader, meaningful, and full of emotion. And make it worthy of sharing. Otherwise, it’s dry and boring and you’ll turn them off faster than you can say ‘donor retention.’
  • Focus on them, not you. There’s a saying that “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” and it’s absolutely true in fundraising. Don’t talk about your organization. Instead, talk about the lives you are changing and why it’s important. Nonprofit materials and social media that are all focused on “we” and “us” aren’t engaging or interesting.

The leaves are turning, the air is cooler, and you know what that means? It’s Fundraising Season!

Lots of nonprofits are ramping up their fundraising efforts and asking for donations, and rightfully so – it’s the best time of year for it.

If you’re not asking for a gift between now and the end of the year, you’re conspicuously absent. And you’ll get left out.

No one ever wakes up in the morning and says “I feel like giving some money away. Wonder if there’s a nonprofit I could give to?”

The responsibility is yours. It’s YOUR job to build the relationship and stay in touch. It’s YOUR job to ask for the gift.

By now, you should have your appeal all figured out. If you’re planning to mail a letter, it should already be on its way. But just in case you don’t, here are some tips you can follow to get the most from your fourth-quarter appeal.

  1. Clean up your mailing list. Don’t send your appeal to people who don’t want to hear from you anymore. A clean list, with the most current email and mailing addresses, will save you money and help you be more accurate in donor communications.
  2. Review past performance. How well have your past appeals done? How much did you raise? What was the average gift size? How about the response rate? Knowing these numbers can help you choose the right segments and lists to approach now.
  3. Be donor-focused. Don’t write an appeal that’s all about you. Don’t talk about how great the year was or how challenging it’s been – no one wants to hear that. Instead, tell a story about someone whose life has been changed by the work your nonprofit does. It’s way more interesting and engaging.
  4. Write to one person. As you write your appeal, don’t think about the hundreds of people who will receive it. Instead, picture one donor in your mind, and write to that one person. Your letter will be way more conversational and interesting.
  5. Outsource if needed. Don’t try to print and mail your appeal internally if you don’t have the resources. You’ll actually save money in the long run by having a reputable mail house prepare and send your appeal.
  6. Measure, measure, measure. Tag either the response card or the envelope if you’re sending a hard copy letter, or use a trackable link for an e-appeal so you’ll know if your ask worked or not. You need to measure response rate (the % of people who gave compared to the total number you asked) and average gift size at a minimum. There’s nothing worse than going to all the trouble to produce and send an appeal and not knowing if it was worth it.

If you only had time to spend with just one donor, who would it be?

I bet you immediately thought about your top donor – the person who gives the most to your nonprofit.

If so, you’re about average. You’re just like everyone else who understands the 80/20 rule and how time should be spent with donors capable of making the biggest gifts.

What about everyone else? Don’t their gifts matter? Won’t some of them eventually become major donors, too?

There’s a HUGE inequality in how we treat our donors.


The Inequality of Attention

People who have historically given the biggest donations get all the attention. Other donors get scraps of your time, if anything. I call this the Inequality of Attention and it’s rampant across the nonprofit sector.

It’s born out of the notion that people who give the most money deserve the most time so that they feel adequately appreciated. There’s nothing wrong with that. Except that most people get so focused on their major donors that they almost ignore the rest of their donors.

I believe this is the root cause of the huge donor retention problem we’re seeing. This is what’s causing people to give once or twice then move on to another nonprofit.

Every dollar counts, doesn’t it? Doesn’t every gift matter?bigstock Balance 30579422 250x183 Should major donors really get all the love?

It certainly does when you’re looking at the budget. When you need money to keep the lights on, every bit is important. But when it comes to building relationships, there’s a definite inequality.

Let me tell you about Carol.

Carol is retired, a widow, and living on a fixed income. She’s given $50 to you every year for the past 5 years. She cares deeply about your cause. But unless she’s left you a big gift in her will, you’ll probably never realize the level of her commitment.

She’s flying under the radar. She may have way more that she could bring to the table if she just felt a little more connected to your organization. She might be the best volunteer you ever had or have strong connections with people who could make game-changing donations.

Doesn’t she deserve the same level of respect and gratitude as the person who gives $5,000 a year? Shouldn’t she get the same kind of appreciation and feel just as valued?

Most people doing fundraising are too busy to care. Or too busy to take the time to think through the things they can do to make a meaningful difference to each and every donor, especially those like Carol.

There have been many times that I have made significant gifts to nonprofits. Okay, they were significant gifts to me. Many were stretch gifts to causes that I whole-heartedly believed in. And nearly every time, I was disappointed when I barely got any thanks at all for my contribution. No recognition. No engagement. No deposits in the emotional bank account. I was just one of hundreds, and I felt it loud and clear.

Why do you think some people believe their gift won’t matter? It’s because they haven’t received any reason to think they DO matter.

Guess whose job it is to help them feel good about their donation and believe that they matter?

Yep. You.

If you don’t do something, who will? I know for a fact that if you don’t help them feel good about their experience of giving to your nonprofit, they’ll move on to the next nonprofit that looks interesting.


Giving is an emotional act.

The first gift is given in response to an emotional stirring someone feels. And it’s a test. If you pass, they’ll give again. If you fail, they’re gone.

People need to feel good about their experience with you. They need confirmation that they made the right decision to give your nonprofit money. They need to believe your nonprofit is trustworthy.

And it’s your job, nonprofit fundraiser, to help them get and keep those feelings.

Otherwise, they’ll go find another nonprofit that seems like they’re trustworthy, doing good work, and worthy of a donation.

With limited time in the day, the question becomes how do you give people a good experience and help them feel good about giving when you have to do it on a mass scale? How do you build trust when you’re not working one-on-one but one-to-many?

Donor retention numbers are horrible. If you’re keeping 30% of your donors from one year to the next, that’s considered good. (I think it’s horrible!)

Donor acquisition is expensive. Most nonprofits lose money trying to bring new donors on board.

Doesn’t it make more sense to spend time loving on current donors to keep them from leaving? Isn’t it much more efficient to slow down long enough to create a strategy for communication that strengthens the relationship and gives our donors a sense of confidence in us?

I think it does. I believe if you do what it takes to increase the positive feelings a donor has about their interaction with you, you’ll see a significant increase in retention and in total giving.


ICAN formula

Whose job is it to build relationships with donors? Yours. Can it be done one-to-many? Yes, it can.

Think about the last time you saw a commercial on TV or a video online that moved you so much you cried. It wasn’t done in a one-to-one format, was it? It was done one-to-many. It was created to give you the viewer a particular experience, then shared in a mass way. It was created with a single person in mind, and the emotional impact was likely felt by you and everyone else who saw it.

You can do this, too. You can give ALL your donors the experience of feeling valued and wanted, without getting face-to-face with every single one.

It takes strategy, planning, and a true understanding of your donors’ needs and wants. It takes time and some thought.

Let me give you a good starting place.

Here are four steps you can take to strengthen the bond, build trust, and ultimately keep people giving longer. All of these can be done one-to-many, and they will require you to slow down long enough to really plan everything out. Good relationships are never built in a hurry. They require thoughtfulness and effort.

Inspire. People need to feel something before they will give. Chances are good your nonprofit is doing amazing, heart-warming work. You’re changing lives (maybe even saving them) and if your nonprofit ceased to exist, it would leave a huge void.

So, share your story. Tell your supporters about the woman who couldn’t get to her kidney dialysis appointments if it weren’t for your transportation program. Talk about the 16-year old who would never learn how to hold down a job if it weren’t for your job skills training program. Share the struggle of a family living in squalor and what it means to them to have a shot at owning their own home. Talk more about why your nonprofit does what it does and less about how it gets done.  Should major donors really get all the love?

Confidence. People need to feel confident that your nonprofit can do the work you’re trying to do, that you can manage the money they give you, and that your people are trustworthy.

So, build confidence for your donor. This is not the time for an ego trip about how great and wonderful your nonprofit is. Trust is built is quieter ways. It’s built in openness. Ask people over for a tour. Invite donors to sit in on your Board meetings. Offer to share your financial statements. Give them the phone number and/or email of a specific staff person they can reach out to if they have ANY questions.

Openness builds trust and confidence. Show your supporters you have nothing to hide and everything to share.

Action. The more people get involved with you, the more connected they’ll feel. So, invite them to take action. When people volunteer and see first-hand the work your nonprofit is doing, they will start to see themselves as a part of the team. Listen for the pronouns to change – they’ll start saying “we could…” instead of “you should…”

Give people the opportunity to get involved. Offer plenty of ways they can volunteer that fit into their busy schedule. Invite them to serve on a committee if that interests them.

Invite them to take action that’s worth taking. Think about how millions of people jumped on board with the Ice Bucket Challenge this summer. It was something they could do and it was fun.

Not everyone will take you up on the chance to get more involved, but they’ll remember that you offered. It’s important and it builds trust.

Nurture. In order for relationships to grow, they must be nurtured. And nurturing is your job. You’re in charge of the care and feeding of your donors. It’s up to you to engage them and draw them closer.

Nurturing doesn’t happen by chance, and it’ll never happen when you’re operating in reactive mode. Create a plan for staying in touch with your donors and keeping them in the loop about the outcomes your programs are getting.


It’s time to stop ignoring donors.

You can engage people through newsletters and social media. You can help donors feel good about their experience through acknowledgment and stewardship.

It takes a conscious decision to do it, followed by a thoughtful plan of action.

Should your major donors get all the love? Nah, you’ve got enough for everyone. Spread that stuff around.

Keyboard with Donate Button.

I’m all about getting creative to find new donors.

Heck, I spend a lot of time helping people brainstorm ways to find new donors.

But sometimes you can cross a line.

People who have used your service might make great candidates to make a donation.

But not always. Let me share a real-life story.

My friend Michelle shared her experience with me recently, and frankly it made me mad.

You see, Michelle was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of months ago. It was a shock to her and her friends and family. (I don’t think we’re ever prepared to hear something like that.) Oddly enough, her husband was diagnosed with cancer too, within a couple of weeks of hers. They were both pretty scared, as you can imagine, yet faced it with a lot of grace and courage. They were scared for themselves and for their two young boys, because even though lots of people get treated and make full recoveries, it’s a whole different thing when it’s you or someone you love.

So, he had his procedure, then a couple of weeks later, she had hers.

As you can imagine, it was a big upheaval in their home for both of them to have major health issues so close together. And even with insurance, they had LOTS of out-of-pocket expenses.

Then one day, Michelle was MAD. Like ‘wet hen’ mad. Here are her words:

A little rant here. I have raised funds for non profits for over twenty years. Sometimes successfully, and sometimes I’m told “no” or “not right now.” That’s part of the job.

One of the most important tools for fundraising is building the relationship with the potential donor. This can be quick or might take months or even years–think million dollar bequest. In this relationship process the fundraiser must walk very carefully until she learns what the potential donor needs and wants in an agency before he writes the check.

Okay, so I’ve just been repeatedly subjected to every way you SHOULD NOT approach a donor.

I assume my name (and Michael’s) has been put on a list somewhere as being a new cancer patient or survivor. And that’s fine.

But you see, dozens of cancer agencies are now asking me to give to them.

Okay. Makes sense, right? Wrong.

Their approach is to tell me everything they do: Financial aid for patients, transportation to treatment, wigs and surgical bras, etc. and they want me to give so they can help other women, children or men.

That’s all fine, but you see, not once did any of these agencies ask if I needed help. I’m lucky that my husband can drive me places and that I don’t need a wig. However, between Michael and I, we have a lot of medical bills.

Now I’m not asking for help! (Unless someone wants to plan a motorcycle ride for fun, right?) Michael and I are being frugal and will eventually be fine. But we are not in a position to make donations.

These cancer groups should have done their homework. (And it’s not ALL cancer groups–I don’t want you to think so. Some have been very respectful). But I can tell you I’m currently feeling rather angry and hurt.

Which does not bode well for my future check-writing to these organizations.

Really? What sense does that make for a cancer nonprofit to approach random people who have fresh diagnosis or are still in treatment, to solicit donations? If you ask me, it’s insensitive and VERY ego-centric. Those organizations are so focused on their numbers and hitting their revenue budget that they haven’t stopped to think about the PEOPLE and their situations.

Honestly, this has got to stop.

Nonprofit leaders have got to slow down long enough to THINK about what they’re doing, who they’re approaching, and what they’re saying.

No wonder donor acquisition numbers are so horrible – it’s all about blanketing a large group of people with a narrowly-focused request, and without enough research into the current situations of the target audience.

Now, since you’re here reading this, I know you’re smarter than the average bear. But please, go back and re-look at how you’re doing donor acquisition.  Make sure you’re putting the relationship in front of the request. Make sure you’re spending enough time understanding your audience and taking the necessary steps to build relationships.


Nancy Stanley cares about helping other people, especially those who have nowhere else to turn.

In fact, she helped start Mercy Medical Clinic to provide free medical services to people in need in the Vidalia, GA area.

Even though she didn’t know a lot about running a nonprofit or fundraising, she was willing to give it a shot.

After asking people to help for a couple of years, she got a reputation for asking. “It bothered me a little” Nancy said. “I thought about it and decided to change my thinking. I realized it wasn’t about me – it was about the people we serve. Since I wanted to help more people, I was willing to keep asking.”
Nancy embarked on a fundraising campaign to support the activities of the growing clinic.

“I decided to approach 100 people and ask for $100 each. The first guy said “When is this going to stop?” The next 10 were happy to give. One even thanked me for asking.  I learned from Sandy that the first guy isn’t really our donor. Our donors are happy to support us and the work we’re doing.”
“I also learned that many people want to give. They just need to be asked.” Nancy understood an important principle of good fundraising – you can’t sit back and wait for the donor to come find you, you have to go find them.
As the organization grew, Nancy realized they needed more space. So she started looking for a new home for Mercy Clinic. She also started thinking about donors who would give to a big capital project.

On one of our coaching calls, I helped Nancy pull together a list of donor prospects who could make big gifts toward the project. We talked through the process of researching each donor, and she narrowed down the list to just one man who she felt really certain could and would make a significant donation.

“The donor I had in mind for a lead gift to our campaign had given several times before, with the largest gift being $3,000. I started telling him more about what we did. I showed him some patient videos and helped him really KNOW what we do.”

Nancy was inspired by another charity’s success in fundraising. “I saw another nonprofit in our community get a million dollar gift, and I decided I wanted that too.  I prayed about it, and this donor was on my heart and mind. I knew he was the right one to talk to.”

After some cultivation, I coached Nancy through the actual Ask conversation. We talked through several scenarios, crafting answers to a variety of questions he might ask.

“When it was time, I approached the donor and made a very personal Ask with a naming opportunity for his family. I was thrilled when he said ‘I can do that’.” Needless to say, we ALL did the Happy Dance!

 Million Dollar Gift in a Small, Rural Community

“What was really amazing was that on December 31st, he made a $50,000 gift that came with a note saying “this is not part of my campaign pledge. I just wanted to give you this.”

What a nice year-end gift!

“He said that he gives a lot every year to different charities, and that he never knows where his money goes. He feels good giving to us because he knows at we do with his money. I believe every donor wants to know what happened with their donation. It helps them feel connected.” Oh, and this donor has decided he’s only going to support Mercy Clinic now! That’s relationship building at its best!

Nancy and her staff have become very donor-focused and are very consciously building donor relationships. “People need to give on their terms. If they want to give monthly, let them do that. If they’d rather give quarterly, let them do that. Don’t try to put the square peg in the round hole.”

They’re also working to get their Board on Board. Fundraising training for Board members starts this week.

Advice to those embarking on major gifts

“I try to put myself in the donor’s shoes. I ask myself ‘what would keep me giving?’ Personally, I want to give where I feel like my money is being used well. So we do our best to help people feel good about their gift to us and we keep them informed about what we’re doing.”

Here are several great pieces of advice Nancy has for those thinking of making a big Ask:

  1. “Remember that it’s not about you. It’s about the program and people you’re helping.”
  2. “You must Ask. Give the donor the opportunity to give and watch what happens. You have nothing to lose by Asking.”
  3. “Lots of people out there are looking for a place to give. Give it to them. They get the privilege of joining with you to do good work.”
  4. “Don’t ever think that people don’t want to give. They do.”

What Nancy has accomplished at Mercy Clinic is remarkable. And yet, it’s the kind of thing that can be done by anyone who is committed to changing lives.

When you put your fear aside and follow the principles of donor-based fundraising, you can raise all the money you need.

The Plan Industrial Details, A Ruler, Caliper, Divider And A Red

You wouldn’t build a house without a blueprint.

You wouldn’t cook a new dish without a recipe.

You wouldn’t take a road trip without a map.

Why should your fundraising be any different?

Trust me when I say ‘spray and pray’ is NOT an effective strategy for raising money. You can’t throw something out to the whole community and hope that someone responds. You need a carefully planned strategy, especially if you are committed to the lives you serve.

Everyone I’ve ever talked to about planning knows they need one. So why don’t more people create and use a plan?

“It takes just as much time to wish as it does to plan” Eleanor Roosevelt

I think there are several reasons people don’t plan. See if any of these sound familiar.

  • “I don’t have time.” Many fundraisers are too busy, doing all kinds of things that chew up their day, leaving them no time to think or strategize.
  • “I don’t know where to start.” Most people need to have a framework to work within. They can’t visualize where to start without some guidance. A sample would be very helpful!
  • “I’ll be fine. I’ll figure it out as I go.” This was me. I was sure I could handle anything that popped up along the way. The problem was that this left me in reactive mode all the time, which was not a good place to raise money from.
  • “I’ll just do what I’ve always done.” If you’re happy with the results you’ve gotten in the past, this is fine. But if you want to raise more money, you’ve GOT to think differently, and you need a plan to navigate new waters.

The best time to create a fundraising plan is yesterday. The second best time is today.

I know you’re super busy, and carving out time can be a problem. But you MUST if you really want to raise more money. Actually, it’s the ONLY way you’re going to raise more money.

So, where do you start?

Every good fundraising plan begins with the result you want. You need to know

  • How much money you want to raise
  • How many donors you want to renew
  • How many new donors you want to acquire

Once you have your goals set, it’s time to choose strategies. Decide what works best for you in your situation, and commit to it. I like to see organizations going after grants, doing one good special event (ONE!), and then focusing on individual donors through a combination of mail, email, and face-to-face asks. Again, pick what works for you, not what the nonprofit down the street is doing.

As you plan for the individual strategies you want to use, get clear about

  • How it will work
  • Why you want to do it
  • The outcome you want
  • The resources you’ll need
  • How much time it will take
  • Who will see it through to completion
  • How you’ll evaluate success

Put it all in writing. If it’s not documented, it’s not real.

“A vision without a plan is just a hallucination.”

And that, my friends, is how you do a quick-and-dirty fundraising plan.